When it comes to finding a contractor to help you on your next home improvement project, it’s important to know that they A) do great work and B) can be trusted. Below is a small list of suggestions for tracking-down quality contractors and what to look for when it comes to their trustworthiness. A. FIND A CONTRACTOR: 1. Friends & Family As a general first step in finding a quality contractor, it’s best to lean on those that you trust most – your friends and family. Their personal testimonials will give you a good idea of their overall experience with the contractor; the quality of work that was delivered, the pricing system and a number of other indicators. As a bonus, you’ll be able to go to your their home and see the contractor’s work for yourself before engaging in the services. 2. Industry Referrals If your friends and family are of no help, your next best option is to ask your favorite handyman from another industry. If you have an electrician or a plumber that you place a lot of faith in, ask them for a referral. If your favorite electrician has proven themselves as hardworking and trustworthy, chances are good that they’ve surrounded themselves with the same kind of professional alliances. With their reputation on the line, your go-to-guy should steer you in the right direction. 3. Online Resources The Internet is brimming with online resources for locating contractors in your area but the pitfalls are great. Especially with faceless online businesses, virtually anyone can be a part of a directory if the price is right. Therefore, it’s important to find a website like AngiesList.com that features some sort of human accountability, community ratings and customer reviews. Because the Internet can be an endless source for finding contractors, you need to be smart about your approach and beware of dime-a-dozen paid advertisements. If you must go online to blindly select a contractor, be sure to start your search amongst professional organizations with an established certification process. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is one of many databases where each and every contractor has passed a list of requirements in order to be included in the listings. Though nothing beats a personal reference, approved and/or certified vendors are the next best alternative. 4. The Phone Book If all of the above resources fail you, you can always resort to the phonebook for your contractor needs. The pages will be full of promising leads but it’s your responsibility to individually screen them, sift through the clutter and seek multiple bids. The Yellow and White Pages are full of valuable information; however, like the Internet, virtually anyone can be included for a price – take your time, call multiple companies and double-check their references for your protection before committing to anything. B. TRUST A CONTRACTOR: 1. Check Their References It is said that even the worst contractors have had some successes along the way. That said, make sure the contractor can offer a reference list that is extensive – not just one or two happy clients. Because everyone puts their happiest clients first, it’s always a good practice to skip through the list and call at random to get a well-rounded response. 2. Business Card The business card is always a first impression and the window to the soul. Aside from its general presentation or organization, look for a local physical address and a cell phone number. The local physical address tells you that they have nothing to hide and have no intention of disappearing. As for a cell phone, any active contractor should be reachable in the field – if they only list a landline, it hints at the fact that they aren’t accessible. 3. License and Certifications It goes without saying but always ask to see a contractor’s license and avoid doing business with anyone that doesn’t have one. Once you’ve seen the license, verify the number with the Better Business Bureau in order to confirm that it’s legitimate and that the record is clean of claims. 4. Door-to-Door Solicitors If a contractor shows up at your door soliciting work, it’s a pretty clear sign that they’re not very busy – this should cause some concern. In addition, if a contractor shows up on your porch claiming to have just done some work for your neighbor and that their extra supplies can be given to you at a discount rate, as tempting as it may sound, there is no guarantee that the service will meet your standards nor will be the contractor be reachable when you ask for it to be corrected. 5. Final Indicators to Consider As much as you should not judge a book by its cover, there are some smaller surface indicators to watch for that might foreshadow their general mode of operations.
- If a contractor wants to skip filing for a permit, who’s to say what other corners are they trying to cut.
- If the contractor demands payment to be cash only, this might be telling of their level of legal legitimacy and honorable business practices.
- If the contractor shows up in an oil-spewing beater truck with garbage spread across the dash, it’s not a socioeconomic judgment being passed rather an observation that their disregard for detail and organization may very well carry over into their work.